Riverkeeper, Feds, State Jostle to Clean Gowanus

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Riverkeeper, a clean water advocacy group, gave notice on September 16 to three businesses along the polluted Gowanus Canal of an intent to sue within 60 days if the businesses do not voluntarily commence clean-up procedures. The corporations, alleged to violate the federal Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, are: 6th Street Iron and Metal, accused of “dumping metal and debris into the canal”; Ferrara Brothers Building Materials Corporation, “a cement plant discharging liquid cement and stone into the canal”; and 107 Sixth Street LLC and 36-2nd-J Corporation, “for operating an open dump and filling the canal from a parking lot on their property.” As the organization mentions on its site, “Riverkeeper also issued a warning letter to the NYC Department of Transportation after documenting a turbid plume of water coming from a stone barge at the DOT Asphalt Plant on Gowanus Bay.” As The Brooklyn Paper reports, Riverkeeper has pursued companies for environmental violations in the past, resulting in voluntary action, lawsuits, and hefty fines. The city has also had its eye on the canal, with plans beginning in 2002 for private investment and aid from the Army Corps of Engineers, but these plans are on hold while the Environmental Protection Agency decides whether to designate the canal as a Superfund site. Proponents of the Superfundification of the Gowanus say that the federal government can obtain large-scale funding (by designating the canal toxic and suing polluters from the past 150 years) that the city can’t. Opponents, such as urban planner Julia Vitullo-Martin, say that the Superfund process will take decades, dry up private investment, and make the process large and inefficient. In an editorial yesterday, Ms. Vitullo-Martin argued that some polluters, such as National Grid on behalf of its predecessors, have already agreed to help the city clean the canal, and the city’s plan will be more beneficial for the well-being of canal neighborhoods in the long run.
Gowanus Canal Pollution Enforcement [Riverkeeper]
Riverkeeper to Sue Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Brooklyn Paper]
Don’t ‘Superfund’ the Gowanus [NY Post]
Photo by Riverkeeper

0 Comment

  • daveinbedstuy

    “Opponents, such as urban planner Julia Vitullo-Martin, say that the Superfund process will take decades, dry up private investment, and make the process large and inefficient.”

    Most likely correct.

    I see three companies named here who will likely file for bankruptcy in the next few weeks as the owners siphon all the remaining assets off.

  • Either that or someone will end up wearing cement shoes.

  • cleaning the canal is one issue, another is further polluting. From what I understand, being a Superfund site is not going to address current sewage overflow.

  • why cant the canal just be filled in and grass and trees be planted above, are we afraid of having any green areas around???

    It would look so much better than just waste land, and why must there be housing on ever single morsel of land…